Cash-strapped Hamas pays Gazans with land in former settlements
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Cash-strapped Hamas pays Gazans with land in former settlements

Fatah movement alleges corruption over move to supplement partially paid salaries with land of Israeli towns evacuated in 2005

Avi Issacharoff

Avi Issacharoff, The Times of Israel's Middle East analyst, fills the same role for Walla, the leading portal in Israel. He is also a guest commentator on many different radio shows and current affairs programs on television. Until 2012, he was a reporter and commentator on Arab affairs for the Haaretz newspaper. He also lectures on modern Palestinian history at Tel Aviv University, and is currently writing a script for an action-drama series for the Israeli satellite Television "YES." Born in Jerusalem, he graduated cum laude from Ben Gurion University with a B.A. in Middle Eastern studies and then earned his M.A. from Tel Aviv University on the same subject, also cum laude. A fluent Arabic speaker, Avi was the Middle East Affairs correspondent for Israeli Public Radio covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq and the Arab countries between the years 2003-2006. Avi directed and edited short documentary films on Israeli television programs dealing with the Middle East. In 2002 he won the "best reporter" award for the "Israel Radio” for his coverage of the second intifada. In 2004, together with Amos Harel, he wrote "The Seventh War - How we won and why we lost the war with the Palestinians." A year later the book won an award from the Institute for Strategic Studies for containing the best research on security affairs in Israel. In 2008, Issacharoff and Harel published their second book, entitled "34 Days - The Story of the Second Lebanon War," which won the same prize.

Illustrative image of an armed member of the Islamic Jihad Movement standing inside the ruins of the Netzarim synagogue on September 12, 2005. (Ahmad Khateib /Flash90)
Illustrative image of an armed member of the Islamic Jihad Movement standing inside the ruins of the Netzarim synagogue on September 12, 2005. (Ahmad Khateib /Flash90)

The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip announced Sunday that it will distribute plots of land from former Israeli settlements to its officials as compensation for partially paid salaries. The idea quickly drew charges of corruption.

Some 40,000 Hamas officials are making salaries of approximately NIS 1,000 ($260) for every 50 days of work.

But the Palestinian terror group, the Strip’s de facto rulers, have struggled to pay workers, squeezed by an Israeli blockade and Egyptian efforts to block smuggling tunnels into the Sinai, moves defended in Jerusalem and Cairo as necessary to stem terror emanating from the coastal enclave.

The plots to be distributed among the officials are located in former Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip which were evacuated in 2005 as part of a unilateral Israeli pullout.

Much of the land in the settlements has remained unused since the 2005 disengagement.

Since most land in Gaza is registered as private, the land, which makes up some 15 percent of the crowded enclave, was chosen as compensation in lieu of the partially-paid salaries.

The announcement by Hamas was received with shock by residents of the Strip. Many say the move is corrupt, based on political discrimination and clearly benefits most those who are closer with the terror group’s top echelon.

Israeli children play on a sand dune overlooking their homes in the Jewish settlement of Neve Dekalim, in the Gush Katif bloc in the southern Gaza Strip, Monday, Aug. 8, 2005. N (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
Israeli children play on a sand dune overlooking their homes in the Jewish settlement of Neve Dekalim, in the Gush Katif bloc in the southern Gaza Strip, Monday, Aug. 8, 2005. N (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

The announcement was made by Ziad a-Zaza, the Hamas government’s minister of the treasury.

The Fatah movement headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, which was ousted from the Gaza Strip in a violent coup in 2007, said in response that the decision was dangerous, illegal, and unfair on a political level.

According to a Fatah official statement, the decision shows that Hamas does not recognize the current unity government signed between the two movements in April last year.

The move by Hamas is unprecedented. Land in the Gaza Strip or in the West Bank was never given away as substitute for salaries, especially not based on party affiliation.

The salary crisis in Gaza was one of the main reasons for the eruption of Hamas violence that brought Israel to attack in Gaza in the summer of 2014, in Operation Protective Edge.

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